After a winter like ours, who wants to go inside again? Thankfully, there are tons of opportunities in New York City to stay outside all day, even to see movies. And what’s better than enjoying the warm weather by scoping out your place on the lawn, picnicking, sipping your favorite summer drink, and enjoying a film under the city lights. (Best of all, they’re free!) Ahead, we’ve rounded up 16 of the best outdoor movie screenings, from spots up and down the Hudson to cool rooftops to unique locales like the plaza outside the Oculus and the Intrepid’s flight deck.
Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
1. The Tribeca Drive-In at Oculus Plaza
June 14-August 11
Westfield World Trade Center and the Tribeca Film Festival are offering a free, summer outdoor film series for the second year in a row. Curated by the Festival’s programmers, the nine classics share a common connection: the theme of food. Visitors can enjoy live music, win prizes, and relax in a lounge and dining area with exclusive food and beverages offered by some of Westfield’s restaurants and eateries. The movies start with La La Land (not quite sure of that movie-food connection) and end with sugary, sweet Elf.
2. Governors Island
June 8-September 14
In partnership with the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Rooftop Films, the Trust for Governors Island has a new outdoor film series called “Escape in New York: Outdoor Films on Governors Island.” This will be the first ever film series produced on Governors Island and will feature four free movies “inspired by the city we all call home.” The first will take place on the Island’s newly restored eight-acre Parade Ground lawn with super views of Lower Manhattan and will be the John Carpenter cult classic Escape from New York, followed by Desperately Seeking Susan, Ghostbusters and more.
Courtesy of Rooftop Films
3. Rooftop Films Summer series
Started in 1997, Rooftop Films is a nonprofit whose mission is to engage and inspire diverse communities by showcasing the work of emerging filmmakers in outdoor locations, helping filmmakers to produce new films, and renting equipment and supporting film screenings citywide at low-cost to artists, nonprofits, and community groups. They highlight innovative work from first-time filmmakers, outsider artists, seasoned film professionals, and underrepresented directors. Some of this year’s coolest locales include Williamsburg’s William Vale hotel, Industry City, and, most buzz-worthy, Green-Wood Cemetery.
4. The Intrepid Museum’s Summer Movie Series
May 25-August 24
With the incredibly appropriate start-of-the-season movie Top Gun, the museum’s super cool flight deck is quite a unique viewing platform. With views of fighter jets, the Hudson River, and the Manhattan skyline, you can watch some old and new favorites first come, first served. The flight deck opens at 7:00pm and the movies begin at sunset, weather permitting. Alcohol is not permitted and the doors close at 8:30pm. On Friday, July 13th, they are showing another appropriate classic, Friday the 13th, and on Friday, July 27th is Dunkirk.
Courtesy of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy
5. Films on the Green
Washington Square Arch
June 1-August 6
Presented in partnership with the Vietnam Heritage Center, Films on the Green is a free outdoor French Film Festival produced annually in New York City parks by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, FACE Foundation and the City of New York Parks & Recreation. All films are shown with English subtitles. Just as with the Tribeca Drive-In, the theme of this year’s movies is food. Some of the gastronomic-centric movie offerings are The Scent of Green Papaya, The Grand Restaurant, and The Rules of the Game.
Courtesy of NYCgo
6. Movies with a View
Brooklyn Bridge Park
July 12-August 30
Since launching in 2000, Movies With A View has seen over 500,000 moviegoers. This year, they’ll show movies every Thursday night in July and August. Ideally located on the Harbor View Lawn with the Manhattan Skyline in full view alongside the Hudson River, it’s a pretty idyllic vantage point. The season begins on July 12th with the awesome Desperately Seeking Susan. Each movie evening starts at 6pm with music and food (sweet treats, snacks, drinks, beer and wine from Smorgasburg). Other movies will be Bend it Like Beckham and Wonder Woman.
In partnership with NYC Parks, the Randall’s Island Park Alliance offers a wide variety of movies that all ages will enjoy. Surrounded by beautiful vistas, Randall’s Island is a fun (and easy) getaway to enjoy a film with your friends or family under the stars throughout the summer season. Movies on offer are Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Lego Batman Movie.
8. Movie Nights at Bryant Park presented by Bank of America
Bryant Park Lawn
June 18-August 10
Starting on June 18th with The Breakfast Club (through August 10th), you can catch a flick in Bryant Park every Monday night. The lawn opens at 5pm for blankets and picnicking and the films begin at sunset (typically between 8 and 9pm). Be aware that no chairs, tables, or plastic ground coverings (including sheets, tarps, bags, or pads) are permitted, but if you don’t have a blanket, you can buy one at the Bryant Park Shop on the Fountain Terrace. Also on the Terrace, Hester Street Fair hosts food vendors with drink and delicious snack and meal options (but there’s also a Whole Foods across the street for anything else you need). Captions are displayed for each film. The season starts with The Breakfast Club and continues with other classics like The Princess Bride and When Harry Met Sally.
Enjoy a movie on the great Chelsea Lawn Bowl. On Wednesdays the venue shows PG-13 and R-rated movies and on Fridays they are family-friendly. Movies start around dusk and there is free popcorn. Additional snacks and drinks are for sale. Some of the films will be Moana, Paddington 2 and the classic 1984 version of The Karate Kid.
10. Summer on the Hudson: Pier I Picture Show
July 11-August 2
Starting on July 11 (through August 22nd), Summer on the Hudson shows movies every Wednesday night in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side’s Pier I. The park opens at 6:30pm for seating and show time is 8:30pm. Who Framed Roger Rabbit will be shown, along with Toy Story 3 and Up.
Courtesy of Socrates Sculpture Park
11. Socrates Sculpture Park
July 11-August 29
This is the 20th year of the very cool and diverse Outdoor Cinema film festival in Socrates Sculpture Park. Presented in partnership with Film Forum and in collaboration with Rooftop Films, the Outdoor Cinema 2018 is sponsored by NYC Ferry, and supported by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the New York City Council, including Council Member, Jimmy Van Bramer. Pre-screening performances are at 7pm and films begins at sundown (weather permitting). Queens’ diversity drives the movie and entertainment choices so they include many foreign films paired with pre-movie cultural music and dance performances and cuisines associated with the film’s country of origin. Some movies on tap are Monsoon Wedding (India), Kedi (Turkey) and The Passionate Thief (Italy).
12. Coney Island Flicks on the Beach
July 10-September 9
Head to the Coney Island beach and watch blockbuster movies and new independent films every Monday night. Just steps away from Luna Park and the legendary Cyclone Roller Coaster, catch movies like Get Out, Crown Heights, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
13. Williamburg’s McCarren Park
July 11-August 9
For it’s 13th consecutive year, Williamsburg’s McCarren Park will show movies every Wednesday, including Jawbreaker, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Die Hard (“yippie-ki-yay,” baby). In addition, they offer live music, and food and drink from local vendors.
St. Nicholas Park 135th Street Lawn
NYC Parks and the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment collaborate to show free, nightly movies in Harlem’s St. Nicholas Park. Before the screening, they offer complimentary ice cream, popcorn, and more activities related to the movie. They highly advise arriving before 7:30pm to secure your spot. Feel free to bring a blanket to sit on, although there will be a limited supply of chairs available. Bottled waters are okay but no glass.
15. Astoria Movies on the Waterfront
June 15-August 20
The Central Astoria Local Development Coalition hosts full-fledged drive in movies on the Astoria Park Green Lawn. With movies like Grease, E.T., and Casablanca, viewers are sure to embrace that retro drive-in spirit. The movie nights vary but always start at sundown. Be sure to check the schedule and dust off your poodle skirt.
16. A Summer Movie Under the Stars
July 18-August 8
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Prospect Park Alliance present “A SummerMovie Under the Stars” in partnership with Brooklyn’s Nitehawk Cinema. These free outdoor, Wednesday film screenings on Prospect Park’s Long Meadow North will feature live musical entertainment followed by family-friendly films chosen by Nitehawk Cinema. This selection will showcase films that exhibited at the Sanders Theater/Pavilion Theater in the 1930s, 1950s, 1960s and 1990s over its 90 year history. Located on Bartel-Pritchard Square, the theater will re-open this summer as Nitehawk Prospect Park.
Adams says, “We are set to host a dazzling array of films and accompanying live entertainment in the heart of Brooklyn’s crown jewel, all celebrating the history of one of our borough’s most beloved movie theaters as it prepares to re-open as its most exciting iteration yet.”
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